Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Saints test first up for City

Manchester City will start the new season against Southampton

Manchester City will begin their defence of the Barclays Premier League with a home match against Southampton.

Roberto Mancini's men, who edged Manchester United to the title last month, face Nigel Adkins' newly-promoted side on August 18 at the Etihad Stadium.

United, pipped on the final day of 2011-12 by their city rivals, open with a match at Everton before taking on Fulham at Old Trafford the following weekend.

Arsenal, who finished third in 2011-12, kick-off with a home game against Sunderland, before taking to the road with trips to Stoke and Liverpool.

Two Europa League rivals meet on the opening day at the Sports Direct Arena, with Newcastle taking on Tottenham - currently managerless after the departure of Harry Redknapp.

Roberto di Matteo's career as permanent Chelsea coach starts with a game at Wigan. The Blues' first home game of 2012-13 is against Newcastle.

Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool open at West Brom - although the first three Anfield fixtures are more eye-catching, with Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United the visitors. The team Rodgers left, Swansea, now managed by Michael Laudrup, begin at QPR.

West Ham's return to the Premier League starts with a home match against Aston Villa, now under the leadership of Paul Lambert, while fellow newcomers Reading will also have home advantage in their first top flight game for four years - with Stoke the opening-day opponents at the Madejski Stadium.

The other first-day match sees Fulham and Norwich meet at Craven Cottage in Chris Hughton's first competitive game since replacing Lambert as Canaries boss. Boxing Day sees Manchester United face Newcastle, while Sunderland and City meet at the Stadium of Light.

Newcastle against Arsenal is the most eye-catching of the May 19 fixtures, when newly-promoted West Ham and Reading play for what could be three priceless final day points at Upton Park.